Historically the South China tiger roamed Central and Eastern China. In the 1950’s, 4,000 South China tigers were thought to exist in the wild, but by the 1980’s, only an estimated 175 remained. Subsequent surveys found limited evidence of wild tigers, and today it is generally agreed that, although a few wild individuals may remain, the subspecies is likely ‘functionally’ extinct—any remaining tigers are not reproducing and therefore destined for extinction—in the wild. Approximately one hundred South China tigers survive in Chinese zoos.
Large-scale reintroductions of zoo-bred tigers to wild habitats have never been attempted, but efforts to restore this subspecies to the wild have been discussed. Zoo-bred tigers have been sent to South Africa to learn how to hunt, and the Chinese government has been investigating suitable reintroduction sites.
To learn how you can help tigers, visit the Tiger Conservation Campaign website.